Michelob Ultra is marketed by brewing giant Anheuser-Busch as low-calorie and low-alcohol beer - and now it's low carbon, too
Anheuser-Busch, the largest brewer in the world, is to launch a new range of low carbon beer cans made from aluminium produced in smelters powered by hydroelectricity.
The company announced earlier this week it plans to produce one million sustainable cans of Michelob Ultra, through a new partnership with metals and mining giant Rio Tinto.
The low carbon cans are a first for the canned beverage industry and have the potential to generate 30 per cent less carbon emissions than traditional cans, according to Anheuser-Busch.
Ricardo Marques, vice president of marketing at Michelob Ultra, said the company had a responsibility to consumers and the planet to make its products more sustainable. "Sustainable packaging is a key opportunity to highlight our commitment to the environment in a tangible way and we are excited to explore the opportunities to bring this to life in 2021 and beyond," he said.
The aluminium for the Michelob Ultra cans will be produced at Rio Tinto smelters in Canada that are powered by zero carbon hydroelectricity, Anheuser-Busch said.
The tie-up between the two firms will also give the brewing giant opportunity to "leverage outcomes" from an innovative zero carbon smelting technology being commercialised in Quebec by Rio Tinto and Alcoa following major investments from Apple and the Canadian government.
The innovative smelting technology, dubbed Elysis, is powered by hydroelectricity and relies on an inert anode instead of a carbon anode, meaning it emits oxygen instead of the carbon dioxide traditionally released at smelters.
"With this partnership, we will bring low carbon aluminum to the forefront with our consumers and create a model for how companies can work with their suppliers to drive innovative and meaningful change for our environment," said Ingrid De Ryck, Anheuser-Busch's vice president of procurement and sustainability.
Anheuser-Busch said the low carbon aluminium cans would help it meet its science-based climate goals, which include a commitment to reducing carbon emissions across its value chain by 25 per cent by 2025. It estimated that 70 per cent of the aluminium used across its portfolio of brands, which include Beck's, Corona, and Stella Artois, was currently recycled.
With the majority of the world's aluminium made from coal-fired plants in China, there have been growing calls for policymakers to invest in low carbon aluminium technologies and to introduce carbon labelling and other measures that can help stimulate a market for low carbon aluminium. Globally, aluminium smelting is estimated to be responsible for one per cent of global emissions.
Bowing to pressure from those aluminium producers that are stepping up investment in low carbon manufacturing capacity, the London Metal Exchange confirmed earlier this summer that it is to give low carbon aluminium its own trading platform.
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